Fanfiction: Call My Name
Pairing: Roy/Ed, implied Al/Winry
Rating: T for language.
Summary: "You know, for alchemists who are experts at making people see what they want to see, you and Nii-san have to be the densest people I have ever had the misfortune of knowing at the same time."
A/N: Another brave attempt to write fanfiction at the wee hours of the morning. Behold, this actually has plot. Yes, it does. Also, dialogue-heavy. Canon timeline is NONEXISTENT. Featuring human!Al and promoted!staff.
Call My Name
Caroline: What's your dog's name?
Adam: I don't know. He never told me.
It was a normal day in Central, Captain Riza Hawkeye noted. All of her fellow colleagues were at their respective workstations just in front of their commanding officer's private office; Breda was desperately trying to edge his seat as far away as possible from Fuery, who was happily crooning to Black Hayate, Falman was scribbling something on numerous sheets of lined paper, sweat peppering his forehead, and Havoc was leaning back in his chair, cigarette lolling around his mouth as he examined a stack of papers in one hand.
"Feet off the table, Havoc," she muttered, one hand drifting to the butt of her standard-issue revolver as the other reached over for the pencil sharpener.
Havoc gave a little squeak. "Yes'm," he spluttered, eyeing the gun with an expression akin to a mixture of anger and fright.
Riza paused, pencil over map of Amestris, as a rather long stream of very colorful words drifted from behind the door to the main corridor, rather quiet at first and gradually increasing into a crescendo of swearing that signified the arrival of a very familiar temperamental alchemist.
"--I swear I will kill him, damnit, stupid moronic son of a --"
"Nii-san!" The door opened, and the Elric brothers walked in, Alphonse leading as he looked back over a red-coated shoulder at his black-clad elder brother, who was glaring at a sheaf of paper with enough venom to poison a small village.
"...he knew, Al! He knew all along that the town was having some kind of trouble with the junta and he sent us there knowing that we'd get all heroic again and--"
"Nii-san," Alphonse interrupted exasperatedly, "You got all heroic, don't get it confused."
Edward blinked, stared for a second at his sibling with his mouth hanging open, and then plowed straight on into a rant that was to rival anything that Riza had the misfortune to overhear. "Whatever, Al. The point is, Sir-Smirks-a-Lot actually gave us information to direct us to some problem that's he's too goddamn lazy to fix himself! It's like -- "
Alphonse looked like he was desperately trying to stop himself from palming his forehead. "The lead was legitimate -- another method of manufacturing red water is related to --"
"No!" the blond alchemist hissed, arms flailing comically as he reached up to clap his hands over his brother's mouth, and almost ending up in a rather spectacular faceplant on the tiled floor. "We're not supposed to be after anything like that anymore, remember?"
Now Riza was convinced that the younger Elric had just rolled his eyes. Ed looked like he was about to launch into another tirade, and judging from the four other pairs of hands clapped over their respective owner's ears, the people in the general vicinity weren't too keen on hearing another one.
"Edward, Alphonse," she cleared her throat, resisting the urge to test if her pencil-throwing skills were up to par with her sharpshooting prowess, "I'm assuming that you boys have just come back from a mission, and have a report to hand in?"
Alphonse looked sideways at his elder sibling, before bowing hurriedly in apology. "I'm sorry, Captain Hawkeye. The mission wasn't what we expected--"
"Like hell it was, Al, it -- mmph!"
"Forgive Nii-san for his, um, behavior," What sounded like a steady stream of curses and a thesaurus' worth of synonyms for 'traitor' and ' bastard' respectively was muffled behind a white glove as the younger Elric tried to silence Ed; bless the boy for being such a balancing element to his brother's abrasiveness, "But I'm sure he'll calm down sooner or later, right, Nii-san?"
Golden eyes rolled heavenwards as Ed finally ceased his struggling and shrugged.
"I do not want to hear of the Major-General's untimely death, do you hear?"
Something that vaguely sounded like 'I could try' was mumbled in reply.
Alphonse shook his head resignedly and released the blond alchemist, who nonchalantly brushed imaginary dust off his clothes with the mission report.
For a moment Riza thought that the child prodigy would once again start ranting, but he merely turned his nose up in the air and marched on straight into her CO's office. Ah. It seemed that only Alphonse's words could have such an effect on Edward.
"Nii-san..." the younger Elric started, but a gloved hand waved him off dismissively, and once again, Alphonse heaved a sigh.
Without further ado, Ed kicked the door to the inner office open with no sign of qualms as to the fact that (a) he was destroying military property, and (b) he was interrupting the work of an officer who was currently four ranks higher than him.
Of course, when Fullmetal dealt with the Flame Alchemist, a few exceptions could be made; in fact, exceptions have been made for years -- it was a blessing that the missions were taking longer and therefore Edward was exploding in anger far less than usual. Riza supposed it was partly the Flame's fault, since he had almost always been accomodating of the sonic torture Edward liked to call 'delivering his mission report' -- and she noticed that every time a fuming Ed stormed out of the office, Major-General Mustang was staring after him with a self-satisfied smirk on his own face.
(And then she'd have to waste at least three bullets in trying to get him to go back to work.)
Judging from the terrified looks on her colleague's faces, and the resigned tone of voice Alphonse Elric used as he bid them good day, it was a mercy that Ed had, at least, shut the door before he had started screaming.
Roy put down his fountain pen and laced his fingers, peering at the blond alchemist standing before him.
The boy radiated death, to put it simply. Eyebrows were drawn together and lips were turned downwards into the very definition of a scowl, and gloved hands were curled into balls at his sides, trembling slightly.
"Ah. I take it that the mission hadn't gone well?"
Ed shot ocular fire, and Roy chuckled in spite of himself.
"The town's worse than Youswell, you moronic excuse for a military officer," he snarled, slamming down the report in front of him and making the table rattle. "The officer-in-charge was so goddamn greedy that he had the entire town in debt, and then some -- he'd almost emptied the town's supply of spring water just to be able to finance his affluent lifestyle! Al and I had to transmute a fucking mountain of rock just to be able to divert the nearest river and create another water supply! And on top of that, I had to beat the officer at his own damn game of manipulation! It took us almost half a year!"
Roy tilted his head. If he looked at Ed at just the right angle, breathing hard, face flushed rather brilliantly with the effort of ranting, and demeanor positively frazzled, he looked like a cat that had just been denied catnip.
"At least I've got practice in the manipulation part, considering all the times I'd have to deal with you. Hey. Hey! Oi, bastard Colonel with a God complex! You're not even listening to me!"
"I am listening to you, Fullmetal," he said calmly, reaching over to take the report and half-expecting the younger alchemist to lunge at him with claws, "And I do believe that you're referring to me by the wrong rank."
Ed threw up his hands in frustration as he flopped back on the couch, taking up his usual position of sprawled-all-over and glaring at him at the same time. "I can call you anything I want, Mustang," he repeated, eyes narrowing.
Roy continued skimming over the report and decided that anywhere the Elric brothers went, a new reputation for a dog of the military will follow. Good or bad, it might swing either way -- it depended on the circumstances involved. But now that Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist, was forever immortalized as the Hero of the People, it was undeniable that no matter what the child prodigy did, he would still be recieved with open arms. He was dangerous in that way, and Roy was glad that the boy's loyalties lay with him.
"I'm talking to you!" Ed growled, and Roy automatically dodged as a couch pillow went sailing over his head.
He waved a gloved hand distractedly. "I'm still listening, Fullmetal. I'm just trying to decipher your illegible handwriting." Roy flicked his gaze upwards fleetingly and sighed theatrically. "If only your cramped cursive hadn't inherited your stature..."
"If it's illegible, deciphering it won't work," the blond boy snorted as he rolled over to his stomach, before suddenly coming to a realization, judging from the slowly-forming expression of outrage. "And wait a minute, did you just call me..."
Roy dodged a second time as the flower vase from the coffee table traced a graceful arc over him, and shattered against the bulletproof windows, accompanied by a scream of 'WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SHORT THAT HE'D BE ABLE TO STAND INSIDE THE DOT OVER AN I!'.
"Seriously, though, why can't you have normal handwriting, like most people?" Another pillow sailed over, and Roy concluded that it silently meant 'I don't give a damn', in Ed-speak. "And the dot over an I is called a tittle."
Still another pillow. "Smartass."
He continued on scanning the report, and considered asking the secretaries to retype it on one of those office typewriters at the library. Penmanship aside, Ed's report was as detailed as one could possibly get, and would probably serve as great reference in the future.
He looked up just in time to catch the sight of Ed rearing back and the next thing he knew, a pillow had hit him right in the face. Now, pillows were supposed to be non-lethal, but this was Fullmetal and automail had greater force behind it, and therefore it was perfectly possible for Roy to get the wind knocked out of him.
"You do realize that I know that you could've sent any other alchemist under your command to deal with the town, right?"
But it's more fun to see what you'd do, Roy thought, and he mentally thanked his ability to stop himself from saying his thoughts out aloud, and his ability to keep a straight face in front of imminent danger (like the quivering bundle of anger that was now Edward Elric). "But you're the only one with a clear schedule. And stop mutilating office furniture."
Ed slammed his palms facedown on the table, leant in, and Roy had a fleeting vision of a snarling cat with bared claws, "You enjoy this, don't you?"
"Is it that obvious?" Roy drawled sarcastically, shuffling the report and straightening it out, "Why else would I waste so much resources on sending you out on a pointless mission, not to mention, the amount of paperwork I'd have to go through just to be able to send you out on said pointless mission? The answer evades me, Fullmetal."
"You are really the most self-centered idiot I have ever met, Colonel Bastard," the younger alchemist spat in a way of an answer, before stalking back over to the couch and collapsing into an untidy heap of golden-haired frustration.
Roy stared at the boy bemusedly, before realizing something. "Have you already run out of names, shrimp?"
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING -- huh?" Ed blinked, cutting his words short. "Wait, what?"
He shrugged nonchalantly, reaching for his fountain pen and taking a fresh pile of unsigned documents. "I just happen to notice that your...terms of endearment are getting quite repetitive."
"Terms of endearment?" Ed barked out a laugh, "Keep on dreaming, bastard. And what the hell do you care? Like I said, I can call you anything I want, damnit."
"Why can't you even get the rank right, Fullmetal?" he asked absently, uncapping the pen.
The boy rolled his eyes, snatching the nearest pillow and seeming to try his utmost best to strangle it. "Excuse me, but Major-General Bastard is so much harder to scream than, say, Colonel Bastard. "
Roy sighed, more out of disappointment than anything else, a thing that surprised even himself. He gave up on the paperwork, seeing that he'd been trying to read the same line five times in a row. Lifting his gaze to one surprised Edward, he tried to smile condescendingly but ended up with a wistful quirk of the lips instead. "Ed, I've worked hard to get to where I am now. I believe I deserve a correct insult from my subordinate, at the very least."
Roy winced at the underlying hurt, but what could he do? It was true, and no matter how he denied that fact, it was a disappointment that the younger alchemist, his most prominent protegé, refused to acknowledge that he, Roy Mustang, was actually succeeding in his plans of working his way up and hopefully, redeeming his sins at Ishbal.
At least, that's how he saw it. And Roy was very good at reading people.
Ed stared at him with a blank expression on his face, before looking away and hugging the pillow to his chest.
Typical of Fullmetal to clam up at the most inopportune of moments. Roy sighed again and started scribbling his signature, taking a few minutes to shake the pen and get the ink flowing.
Roy's breath hitched as he noted the minute trembling in the younger alchemist's normally brash way of speaking, and he looked up. "Fullmetal?"
"I...I never thought of it that way," he continued, and what sounded like a cross between a giggle and a sob resounded throughout the office, "Shit, I'm so stupid."
"Fullmetal, talking to yourself is a sign of impending insanity," he said, trying to break the tension; it was easier to deal with Ed as a child prodigy with a sharp tongue rather than a child with a tendency to blame himself for everything that went wrong in general. Damnit, he had not meant for the boy to take it seriously! Or maybe he had, but just not in...this way. "Hey -- "
Ed then chose this moment to turn his gaze towards him, golden eyes regarding him from under shuttered eyelids with something akin to -- what the? -- hopelessness.
"But hey," he tried to crack a grin but ended up with a grimace instead, "I don't think I'm going to be able to let Colonel go just yet."
The pillow he had been hugging sailed over and hit him head-on once more, but this time it was less of a deadly weapon and more of a wake-up call, as Ed stood up and silently swept out of the office, leaving a confused Flame Alchemist behind him.
Roy lifted a hand to knock on his ninth door, hoping to the high heavens that this was the correct one. He was going to incinerate Havoc for giving him the wrong room number to the Elric's dorm room.
Some time after the elder Elric had left his office, Roy had taken it upon himself (no, he was not guilty. No. Not feeling guilty. Just looking after his subordinate, that's all.) to find where Ed had gotten off into, and maybe wring out an answer from the blond alchemist.
And maybe tell him that he was increasing the time between missions, for the constant errands seemed to have addled the child prodigy's way of thinking.
He rapped sharply on the door, and on the third knock, the door swung open, revealing a rather startled Alphonse Elric.
"M-Mr. Mustang!" he stammered, clearly not expecting the elder alchemist. He was halfway through a bow when Roy waved at him to stop.
"Don't worry about it, Alphonse," he said, using the tone of voice he usually reserved for those times he didn't want anyone to know how he was truly feeling (not guilty. At least, that's what he told himself.). "I was just wondering whether you have seen your older brother around."
Brown eyes with a hint of grey blinked at him owlishly, and Alphonse scratched the back of his neck in a gesture he had not grown out of since he had been in a suit of armor. "I...I'm sorry, but I have no idea where my Nii-san is."
"Ah," Roy couldn't keep the disappointment from his voice. Knowing the elder Elric, he'd have to comb through every library in Central with a fine-toothed comb to search for him. "Well then."
Alphonse turned his back and opened the door wider. "I'm packing my things for Risembool," he said in a manner of explanation, and Roy caught the implied invitation to help. However, he was rather keen on trying to find the other Elric brother, so he tried to get out of the situation as tactfully as possible.
"I'll try to find your brother elsewhere -- " he started, but then the brunet alchemist sent him a look over his shoulder that clearly brooked no opposition. There was no question that that particular look was something the Elric brothers shared, and Roy wondered why he was suddenly feeling nervous. "All right, Alphonse."
He was in the middle of asking himself how he, a Major-General and a decade older, had followed a civilian's orders -- unspoken request -- without question, when Al dumped a pile of freshly-laundered clothes on what Roy assumed to be Ed's bunks.
Again, Roy took this as a gesture that he should be the one folding the pile of clothes, seeing that Al had his back turned to him and was now rummaging through his closet. Shaking his head in disbelief, he walked over, sat on the mattress, and started sorting through the articles of clothing.
"It was Nii-san's idea to start with," the younger alchemist's lilting tone broke through his thoughts, and Al started taking down clothes from their respective wire hangers, "That I should go and visit Risembool."
Roy blinked. "Ah," he repeated, smoothing a shirt down and folding the sleeves inwards, "I take it that the...Rockbells have not seen you since your restoration?"
Al shook his head. "We haven't even told them yet."
"Is it an Elric trademark to surprise people?"
The boy laughed, snapping a suitcase open and carefully placing clothes inside. "Maybe. Maybe not. I haven't mastered the art of surprising people just yet."
Well, you sure have surprised me, Roy winced mentally as he set the newly-folded shirt in another pile. "You'll do soon enough; being around your brother will see to that."
"Hn," Al said in reply, somewhat lost in choosing what clothes to bring, and there was a few minutes of surprisingly comfortable silence.
A few folded shirts later, Roy realized he had never seen the clothes he were sorting through on either of the Elric brothers; the elder was almost always seen in his customary black jacket and pants, while the younger was never seen without the flamel-emblazoned red coat. "Alphonse, whose clothes are these?"
He didn't know whether to feel embarrassed, as he was handling the personal belongings of the temperamental alchemist, or to feel fascinated, as he had never seen Ed wearing these. He forced back a smile as he held up a particularly horrible flower-patterned shirt. "Fullmetal?"
Al shrugged. "It's for undercover missions. Nii-san has a very hard time going incognito; people recognize him wherever he goes now."
Roy tucked the shirt's sleeve under and placed it neatly on top of the folded pile. Wondering how Edward turned out to be something of a clothes addict (the clothes still covered a good half of the bed), and how the younger alchemist managed to use all of these clothes without Roy even seeing him, he pulled out a random article of clothing and blinked.
And blinked some more.
Alphonse looked up from where he was wrestling a particularly stubborn pair of socks into his suitcase.
Roy held up the miniskirt to the sunlight filtering from the window and shut his mouth.
The boy laughed once again. "Nii-san takes his missions very seriously; he will do anything in his power if the situation calls for it."
The stream of situations Roy was mentally recounting (with an unhealthy amount of blond, red, flashes of skin and steel, and a whole lot of blushing) was broken by a veiled death threat from the younger Elric. "Major-General, I'd appreciate it if you kept your thoughts to yourself in all aspects. Or else."
Roy thought he could hear the which includes, but is not limited to, mentally imagining my brother in a miniskirt and devious plans to make sure said brother wears it in front of you that followed, and he coughed, hoping that the gesture would hide the unwilling smirk that flitted across his face. "Of course, Alphonse."
There was a discreet rolling of eyes and a small murmur of 'as if' that hung in the air before Al went back to trying to stuff the socks into a corner of his suitcase, with little success. Roy quickly folded the miniskirt and shot it a glare for inducing such traitorous (Ed in a miniskirt!) thoughts. "However, if the skirt was in the laundry...does it mean that Fullmetal had worn it recently?"
Al looked up at him and smiled toothily. "You wouldn't want to know, Mr. Mustang."
Roy was in the process of saying that he was the boy's commanding officer and therefore had a right to know what his subordinate was doing, when he accidentally uncovered a frilly confection of pink cloth, white lace, and red ribbon that could hardly be considered a dress. The words died in his throat. "...are you sure that your brother does not have any...unusual...hobbies?"
The smile widened into a grin. "Not that I know of. Don't worry, the shock wears off after a while."
Roy gingerly tossed the dress into the farthest corner of the bed and picked out a relatively normal-looking pair of pajamas to fold. "I cannot believe Fullmetal would willingly wear that...thing." He then noticed that the pajamas he were folding had a shade of pink to rival the cover of Maes' latest photo album of Elysia, and were also dotted with -- were those helmets? Of Alphonse? -- small helmets of armor. "But then again, I cannot imagine Fullmetal wearing any of these, either."
Al muffled a snort with a gloved hand and settled for sniggering instead. "My Nii-san...is a very private person."
"I can imagine," Roy replied dryly, dropping the folded pajamas on the top of the slowly-growing pile of sorted laundry.
There was a ripping sound as Al forced his suitcase to open more than it was originally designed to, and the boy blinked once before lightly touching arrayed gloves together and mending the rip in a soft crackle of blue alchemic light -- Alphonse was never the one to willingly draw attention by flourishes and loud claps. Unlike other alchemists out there...
Roy started wondering once more why and how he came to be here, sitting on the Fullmetal Alchemist's bed, sorting through his clothes, and having a mildly violent conversation with his younger brother.
"It's a part of his philosophy, Major-General," the younger Elric said suddenly, stopping his packing for a few moments and gazing at his palms ,"He's built up a reputation around those black clothes of his, and of all the things Nii-san hates, it's appearing weak before the general public, of people whom he thinks deserves nothing less. He likes to pretend that he's all right even when he's not."
"Your brother is anything but weak," Roy said absently, coming upon one of Ed's usual black wifebeaters and seeing in his mind's eye a ten-year-old boy -- sans leg and arm -- staring at the floor with a haunted look in golden eyes as Roy offered him a chance to redeem himself.
"Hn," Al wandered away and started rifling through books that were precariously stacked on a nearby nightstand. "Then I think his idiotic philosophy is working...for now."
Roy dismissed the sarcasm in the younger alchemist's voice as a mistake in hearing (for sarcasm was the elder Elric's playing field; from what he knew Alphonse was supposed to be the calm one) and started folding Ed's military-issue overcoat. "No matter what happens, his reputation will stand. Alphonse, your brother's a legend without the public even knowing that he retrieved your body from the gate. Legends can't fall that easily."
"That doesn't mean they'll get hurt in the process."
Roy twisted around and stared at the younger Elric, who was carrying a stack of books over to his still-open suitcase. "You're worried about your brother."
Al made a noise that vaugely sounded like 'Obviously?' and started rifling through a thin paperback book. "I seem to remember saying that Nii-san was the one who suggested I go to Risembool. Alone."
"We've never gone on a trip without each other before."
"It's a big change."
"I...well...from your point of view, I'd like to think so."
"And his philosophy is still at work."
"Well," Roy paused, and stared once again at the younger Elric, having the strangest feeling that this was the part when he was supposed to have an epiphany of sorts. "...philosophy at work?"
This time, the younger Elric had given up all pretense of subtlety as he palmed his forehead. "You know, for alchemists who are experts at making people see what they want to see, you and Nii-san have to be the densest people I have ever had the misfortune of knowing at the same time."
Roy still stared at the boy, truly bewildered by this time. "I'm not sure I get what you're saying."
Alphonse looked like he was sorely tempted to throw the book he was holding in his face, but instead, he stuffed the book alongside his other things. "Major-General, I did not think you'd be such a blind idiot."
Roy decided to go along with what he recognized as the younger boy's version of a rant, knowing that by and by Alphonse will clarify whatever he was talking about. "At least you get the rank right, Alphonse," he said mildy, smoothing out another shirt.
The boy had fallen into thoughtful silence before speaking up in a tone of voice that, strangely, sounded like he was struggling to hold back giggles. "I believe he's still calling you Colonel Bastard?"
Roy sighed in reply, shooting an exasperated glance at Al. "In varying degrees of creativity."
He was taken aback by the bittersweet smile on the younger Elric's face, and hastily turned back to the few remaining pieces of unfolded clothes.
"Nii-san takes a lot of time thinking about his...choice of words with you, every time we came back from a mission -- or even during his free time. About the same time he's thinking of new comebacks in situations where his height is brought up. He doesn't come up with those things on the spur of the moment."
It took Roy a few seconds to analyze what he had said, and he felt his eyebrows come together in consternation. "So you're saying that Fullmetal has put me...and his height...on the same level? I don't understand."
Alphonse paused for a moment. "He's touchy about his height, Major-General, but really, it's a very personal issue for him. You see, he knows for a fact that his lack of height is not because of his refusal to drink milk, but because of getting automail at a young age. He feels cheated, but you'll never catch him saying it out loud. That's why he hides underneath his usual screaming and yelling."
"His philosophy at work," Roy echoed, but he had already figured out that much of the temperamental alchemist. "Wait, what does that mean for insults on my part?"
"The same applies to you, Mr. Mustang; you're no longer a military issue, nor an 'another person' issue, but a personal issue," Al said sadly. "The world may change, but my Nii-san refuses to go along."
This was more difficult than dealing with the higher officers. Alphonse may very well turn out to be a politician -- Roy could simply not comprehend what the boy was trying to say.
The younger Elric checked his things one last time before forcing the suitcase closed and snapping the locks shut. "His philosophy doesn't work well with his heart, you see," he murmured absently.
Damn the boy's philosophy, Roy thought, frustrated, when Al's last statements finally went through his head. "So," he started slowly, eyebrows furrowing even more, "He can't pretend when his emotions come into play, and he refuses to go along with changes he doesn't like?"
Al sighed once more, and flopped on his bed next to his suitcase. "Go on."
"And apparently, I'm a personal issue..." Damn the boy again for being so complicated. Roy felt the start of a headache come on. "...and his insulting me is a personal issue."
The younger Elric gazed at him with a mixture of hope, frustration, and impatience. "Major-General..."
"I still don't get why he refuses to call me -- oh."
Realization dawned on him like a metric ton of bricks hitting him head-on. Edward refuses change but manages to hide it with his philosophy of pretending. He slips when it comes to his feelings. Roy was considered a Personal Issue and therefore concerns said feelings, and therefore the philosophy of pretending does not apply to Roy. Ed still called Roy Colonel Bastard because he didn't want to let go of the Colonel because the Colonel, apparently, is a Personal Issue. But why was the Colonel a Personal Issue?
"Mr. Mustang, please stop referring to yourself in the third person," Al pleaded with an apprehensive expression on his face, and Roy realized he had been debating with himself aloud. "And the Colonel is very different from the Major-General -- the Colonel was the one of the few points in Nii-san's life that he knew would never change. But..." Al paused, and gestured helplessly with gloved hands, "He barely knows the Major-General because he hardly ever sees him. He's pressuring me to visit Winry in person even though he knows she's barely a phone call away. We're going to be separated for the longest time we have ever been, and he's resigned to that fact. His life is changing and he's holding on to someone who's not even there anymore."
Someone who's not even there anymore. Roy cringed inwardly. He had not meant to send Fullmetal on missions that took so long, but a higher position meant more paperwork and more men under his command -- he could not afford dealing with the boy too many times without anyone taking it as a sign of favoritism.
But then again...Edward had been the Colonel's favorite, no doubt.
Where had the Colonel gone, anyway?
Silence fell for a few minutes, before Roy made up his mind and got to his feet, leaving a neatly-folded pile of clothes on the bed. Selfishness had gotten the both of them this far; why not take it to the next step and see what happens?
He looked back over his shoulder as he stopped at the door. "Sometimes, I wonder who's the older Elric brother, Alphonse."
Al smiled at him, and Roy suddenly knew this was what the younger alchemist had had in mind all along. "You'll find Nii-san at Aisle 54 of the Central Library."
Edward, predictably, was once again hidden behind numerous columns of stacked books when Roy finally found him. Roy wondered whether the books were a part of the boy's philosophy as well, but when the boy gave no sort of recognition when Roy arrived, he decided that Ed's love for books, at least, was very real.
Ed turned a page.
Roy slid into the chair across the younger alchemist. "Fullmetal."
Golden eyes blinked, Ed jerked slightly backwards, his seat teetering precariously. "What -- oh. It's you. What do you want?"
Ed was watching him with a carefully guarded expression on his face as Roy placed the folder he had been carrying on the table. "I think you know what this is."
The boy snorted and rolled his eyes in quick succession. "Damnit, not another one. Don't you ever get tired of tossing me into the most godforsaken areas of Amestris?"
"I don't think I ever will." Roy watched Ed back and noticed that there was no remaining trace of the hopelessness in that face that had been so open a few hours ago, nor was there any indication that said incident did happen an hour ago.
"Bastard," Ed leant back in his chair and yawned, stretching. "Moronic Major-General...you really should shrink your ego down to the size of Amestris, at the very least."
Roy leant forward and hoped the blond alchemist wouldn't see through his miserable attempt at an apology. Argh. "I've been thinking about...earlier, Fullmetal."
At this, Ed suddenly sat up straighter and discreetly edged his seat backwards, before bowing his head and turning a page in the book currently open in front of him. Roy noted a faint trace of pink on the bridge of his nose. "Oh yeah? Pssh, forget about that. I'll just have to think of a whole another bunch of insults that fit with Major-General, nothing big. I was being stupid, and -- "
Roy cut him off and Ed squeaked. "Fullmetal, I realized that somehow...we were both at fault. You were not being stupid, I was."
Ed threw him a disbelieving glare. "You're overanalyzing it again. It was my mistake, deal with it, but don't pull out any inspirational life stories, weird deeper meanings, or all that other shit from it."
"I'm not overanalyzing it," he sighed, wondering when the alchemist would stop being so difficult, "It's just that -- "
Ed was giving him that look again. The same look that he always wore when he broke his office door down right after coming back from a mission.
"I've decided that as long as you do acknowledge me as a superior officer," Roy swallowed nervously as the boy stared at him, "You may call me anything you want."
There was a fleeting look of suspicion that crossed Ed's face, but it was gone as quickly as it came, and his expression turned into something heartwrenchingly hopeful. "Really? I can call you anything I want?"
Roy wondered if he was doing the right (and sane) thing, but this was Ed. Everything that concerned the boy, including falling in love with him, merited insanity. He shrugged and felt the corners of his mouth turn up into a small smile. "Of course."
The boy's resulting blush was spectacular, and Ed was engaged with a staring match with his open book as he spoke. "Well then, in that case..." he paused, fidgeting in his chair nervously, before looking up with a fierce determination in his eyes that made Roy's breath hitch.
"I'm going to call you mine."
And with that, Ed stood up, snatched the folder lying in front of Roy, and marched out of the aisle and out of sight.
Roy stared after the whirlwind of blond and red that was a heavily blushing elder Elric for a good five minutes, before bursting into giddy, hysterical laughter.
"Major-General, if you can't keep your amusement to yourself, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"S-sure, j-just give me a m-m-minute."
"Flame Alchemist, out of my library right now."
It was another normal day in Central, Riza noted. Her colleagues were huddled over Havoc's workstation, and her commanding officer was sitting across him, eyes narrowed with a calculating hand on his chin.
Roy Mustang picked up his queen and moved it three squares forward. "Checkmate."
Havoc whined at the unfairness of it all, and beside him, Breda promised to avenge him in a game of checkers. Roy blanched and quickly stood up, knowing Breda's reputation at board games.
Riza cleared her throat meaningfully and handed out a fresh stack of paperwork for him to go through.
"I suppose I should thank you for the early deterioration of my hand," the Flame Alchemist said sarcastically, taking the papers and eyeing her with an interesting mix of affection, fright and resignation.
"You're welcome," she replied in the same light banter, trying and miserably failing to hide a grin.
"You're going to pay for my hospital bills -- "
Her CO's reply was suddenly interrupted by the resounding crash that meant a certain blond-haired alchemist had just kicked down the newly-repaired door. There was a collective silence as they all swung their heads in synchronized fashion towards Ed, just like the calm before the storm.
And of course, there was the storm itself.
Ed pointed an accusing finger at Roy. "You...you...I have no words!"
Roy merely stared at the boy with his usual smirk in place. "Hm?"
Marching over to him, the boy vigoriously waved a sheet of paper in front of the General's face, looking very much like a child hovering on the edge of throwing a tantrum. "Why can't you just ask like any normal person would, huh?"
Roy cocked his head sideways. "Where would the fun in that be, pipsqueak?"
Riza mentally made a note to use both alchemists for target practice sometime in the future; they contributed more than their share to the world's noise pollution. She braced herself for the oncoming scream that was an insulted Edward Elric.
But it never came.
Instead, to her amazement, the younger alchemist's cheeks colored an admirable shade of pink before finally slamming down the offensive sheet of paper on her desk. "We'll settle this later... And I am not wearing that...thing!"
Ed paused, and shot Roy a smirk. "At least, not now. And yes, you're still a goddamn bastard, did you know that?"
He then acknowledged her with a swift nod and marched out of the office, head held up high.
For some reason, her commanding officer looked slightly...giddy. And for some other, even stranger reason, he immediately walked on into his office and closed the door.
And for a reason only the sheet of paper Ed had left explained, the Major-General finished his required paperwork an hour earlier than the four-o'-clock deadline, and swept out of the office with a rather large smile on his face.
Underneath the official seal of the Amestrinian military, in neat, typewritten letters, was a well-worded 'mission' for the Fullmetal Alchemist to go out on 'rest and relaxation' leave with the Flame Alchemist, with said Flame Alchemist's signature scribbled neatly underneath. And a postscript that mentioned the use of a miniskirt.
Riza sighed and resisted the urge to facepalm. Yes. Just another ordinary day.